Before anything, I want to say how blessed and appreciative I am of this opportunity, to not only do something I love, but also see Fan-I Sports growing as a media brand. This was my first time being apart of media row at a Mid-Major Division 1 tournament. I would like to thank the CAA for the opportunity and for bringing their great league to our great city.
Now that we got that out the way, lets get discuss the opening game of what I think will be a great tournament.
The Elon Phoenix defeated the Towson Tigers, 74-69 in an overtime thriller. Elon went 45% from behind the arc, knocking down a total of 13 trey balls. Freshman Elijah Bryant of Elon, led all scorers with 21 points and was 4-9 from behind the arc.
Both teams got off to a good start, combining for 20 in the 5 minutes of the game. Towson's freshman, Mike Morcell, came out strong, scoring 7 of Towson's first 12 points Morcell is a product of the DC area, playing his high school ball at St. Johns.
Morcell only averaged 6 points during the season, so to see him come out strong like that was surprising. Coach Pat Sherry in the press conference noted that he should have played Morcell more during the season, also saying that he practiced harder, which earned him more time during the final stretch of the season.
Bryant, the conference Freshman of the Year, proved why he is the top rookie, scoring 14 in the first half. The bright lights of the Baltimore Arena didn't affect the young freshman,
"Going out I tried to talk a lot during warm-ups and talk a lot to my guys just to calm me down more" Bryant said.
The Freshman of the Year has been a major factor in the Phoenix current 4-game win streak, averaging 16 points in the last 3 games.
In overtime, Elon began the period with some great possessions. They hit back-to-back three-pointers to build a 70-64 lead, which was the largest lead of the game, also coming up with a couple big offensive rebounds.
Senior, Kevin Blake, was a big contributor in that overtime period, grabbing one of those offensive boards and sealing the game with his fast break dunk to put the Phoenix up 72-67 with 17 seconds remaining.
The Phoenix will now get ready for top-seeded William & Mary. Coach Matt Matheny got some great minutes from his role players like Collin Luther (3-3 3pt, 9 points) and Austin Hamilton who force the turnover that lead to Blake's game sealing dunk.
I think this tournament will be a wild one and it's not stretch to see Elon pull off the upset. On their 4 game winning streak they defeated Northeastern (#1 seed) and UNC-Wilmington (#4 seed), so the phoenix are hot right now, pun intended.